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Bank of America student loan alternatives

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This student loan giant may be out of the game, but there are lots of other options out there.

Bank of America was one of the first banks to stop offering student loans after the financial crisis of 2008, but it still originated federal loans until 2015. Now both programs are gone. Luckily, you still have other options. We take you through some of our picks for private loans and refinancing to help you pay for school in a way that works for you.

Why doesn’t Bank of America offer student loans anymore?

Bank of America never formally announced why it shut down its private student loan program in 2008, but it came at the same time as two major changes. First was the 2008 recession. The subprime mortgage crisis led to a credit crunch, meaning that there was less money to go around for student loans — and less profits to be made.

Second was a government move toward providing student loans themselves, rather than through middlemen companies like Sallie Mae. The 2007 College Cost Reduction and Access Act cut government subsidies for private student loans, making them more expensive for banks to issue at competitive rates. For many banks, student loans just weren’t making enough money.

After ending its private loans program, Bank of America continued offering federal student loans for several years. But it shut down that program in 2015 as well. Bank of America is only one of several big banks to back out of the student lending game since 2008, along with JPMorgan Chase.

3 best Bank of America student loan alternatives

Bank of America student loans might not be an option anymore, but there are alternatives. For federal loans, you can easily apply by filling out the FAFSA. Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for a federal loan, most private lenders now recommend students apply anyway. It’s often the most affordable, flexible option there is and you might even qualify for federal grants or work-study, which you don’t need to pay back.

If you already reached your federal limit, lost your eligibility or want to refinance, you might want to look into one of these three options.

Best for building your career: CommonBond

CommonBond has student loans for most common purposes: Paying for college, paying for grad school, covering an MBA or refinancing. It even offers Parent PLUS loan refinancing — either into the student’s name or for more favorable terms.

But borrowing from CommonBond doesn’t just stop there. It offers several career-building perks to its members, like connecting borrowers with potential employers and networking opportunities. If you lose your job, CommonBond can even connect you with a consulting job to tide you over while you get back on your feet.

  • How much you can borrow: $5,000 to $500,000
  • APR: 3.20-7.25%
  • Fees: No fees to apply
  • Loan term: 5 to 15 years
  • Cosigner: Yes

Best for making a quick comparison: LendingTree

LendingTree can’t give you a student loan directly. What it can do is connect you with several different student loan providers after filling out a quick online form.

It’s a great option for students who don’t have a lot of time to individually prequalify for several different lenders — or don’t know where to start. It could also be helpful to students that need large amounts of funds, above what most private student loan providers offer.

  • How much you can borrow: Varies by lender
  • APR: 2.55%–9.75%
  • Fees: Varies by lender
  • Loan term: Varies by lender
  • Cosigner: Varies by lender

Best for streamlined bank or credit union refinancing: Purefy

Like LendingTree, Purefy isn’t a direct lender. Instead, it helps borrowers apply for student loan refinancing through one of two different lenders: Citizens Bank or PenFed Credit Union.

Many banks and credit unions don’t offer an online application process and applying can take some time. Purefy gets rid of the need for a trip — or even a phone call — by letting borrowers apply quickly online. It also offers Parent PLUS refinancing and a couple of loans that let married couples move their student debt into one loan.

  • How much you can refinance: 7500 to 90000
  • APR: 3.20%–8.34%
  • Fees: None to apply
  • Loan term: 5 to 20 years
  • Cosigner: Yes

Does Bank of America offer any similar loans?

It does offer one option that your family can use to help pay for school if they own a home: a home equity line of credit (HELOC). This lets parents borrow up to the amount they own in their home. Since your home is collateral, they can often get low rates similar to what student loan providers might offer.

Come from a family that rents? You’re out of luck. Bank of America doesn’t offer any personal loans, which could have been another option. You can, however, sign up for a student credit card, which can help you build your credit history and qualify for competitive student loan refinancing rates — if you use it responsibly.

Compare more student loan options

Rates last updated July 22nd, 2018
Name Product Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR Product Description
Credible Student Loan Refinancing
Good to excellent credit
None
2.57%(As low as ) (variable)
Get prequalified offers from top student loan refinancing providers in one place.
SoFi Student Loan Refinancing Variable Rate (with Autopay)
650
full balance of your qualified education loans
2.51%–7.554% (variable)
A leader in student loan refinancing, SoFi can help you refinance your loans and pay them off sooner.
LendKey Student Loan Refinancing (with AutoPay)
660
$300,000
2.76% (As low as) (variable)
Find competitive rates and unmatched loan benefits from LendKey’s network of not-for-profit lenders.
Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinancing
Good to excellent credit
None
3.09%–6.69% (fixed)
Lower your student debt costs with manageable payments, affordable rates and flexible terms.
EDvestinU Consolidation & Refinancing Program
700
$200,000
3.85%–7.45% (variable)
Earnest Student Loan Refinancing Variable Rate (w/ autopay)
650
no maximum
2.57%–5.87% (variable)
Get a tailored interest rate and repayment plan with no hidden fees.
LendingTree Student Loans
Good to excellent credit
Varies by lender
2.55%–9.75% (fixed)
Compare multiple student loans and student loan refinancing options in one place.
Purefy Student Loan Refinancing
620
$90,000
2.00%–7.98% (variable)
Refinance all types of student loans — including federal and parent PLUS loans.

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Just because Bank of America’s student loan programs are no more doesn’t mean you’re out of options. You might want to go with one of our top three picks for lenders. Or, you can stick with your favorite bank and have your family take out a HELOC to pay for school.

Before you make any decisions, you might want to check out our student loans guide. You’ll find even more lenders you might qualify for and get a breakdown of how student loans work.

Frequently asked questions

Image: Shutterstock

Anna Serio

Anna Serio is a staff writer untangling everything you need to know about personal loans, including student, car and business loans. She spent five years living in Beirut, where she was a news editor for The Daily Star and hung out with a lot of cats. She loves to eat, travel and save money.

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